Sunday, 27 July 2008

spoilin' for a broilin'... squaring up to Maze Grill

It's some weeks now since I went to Maze Grill, but y'know, I've been busy, stuff gets in the way, the cat got sick, etc. The usual, in other words.

You'll know already that I'm a bit of a fan of Jason Atherton. So having been to Maze and loved it, it wasn't ever going to be long before a trip to Maze Grill was called for.

Just to clear up any confusion. Yes, it's a separate restaurant. But yes, it's also housed in the same building as Maze. You go in by the same door as you would to go to Maze, but then you turn right instead of left. (Although you won't go too far wrong, 'cos if you go left, you'll end up in Maze. Which is hardly a short straw.)

Got that?



Maze Grill exterior

Go in. Go right. Not left.

So we went in, turned right, were shown to our table by the window, sat down. Perused the menu. Perused the wine menu. Dribbled happily to ourselves. And admired the interior, a vision of contemporary loveliness.


Maze Grill interior





Maze Grill interior 2

Is that lamp stand drunk? Or is it me? Or is it art?

And then a waiter came, bearing 5 not insubstantial slabs of meat.

"All for me?", I asked. "Already? How very kind."

(Well, actually, ok, I didn't. But I was tempted. Wouldn't you have been?)

It transpired that we were to have a lesson in HOW TO RECOGNISE DIFFERENT TYPES OF STEAK. Or, more precisely, the different beasts from whence they come. So, the roll call: Casterbridge grain fed, aged 21 days; Hereford grass fed, aged 25 days; Aberdeen Angus grass fed, aged 28 days; Creekstone prime USDA corn fed, aged 35 days; Wagyu '9th grade', Gold style.

Being UK born and bred, I'm familiar enough with the first 3. I wanted difference. Bring on the Wagyu, matey.

Oh, it's £120.00? Er, I'll, er, have the Creekstone, then, please. The Noo Yawk strip steak. (Again, not a cut we hear much of here, let alone see or eat.) Ta very much.

First, though, we had to choose something to start. I use the words 'had to' advisedly. I would have happily moved straight to the steak, but I'd had a reliable tip-off that the starters were worth the short delay. A quick debate, and we settled on seared octopus and salt and pepper squid.

OK. Let's go.

Maze Grill octopus





Maze Grill salt and pepper squid

Beige. But good.

The seared octopus was good. Seared to that meaty, slightly charred taste, but not overcooked. Just what the menu said, to be honest. If you like octopus, you won't go far wrong with this.

The salt and pepper squid was (were?) terrific. Coated with a fantastic light, crispy, tempura-like batter, the squid was cooked beautifully. A little bite, but not remotely rubbery. Just a little something to chew on before it melted away in the mouth. As fresh as could be. Really, I could have eaten it all day.

But we had the steak coming. And I intended to be ready.

Hang on, though. Why all the fuss about a simple steak?

The fuss is because (a) Jason Atherton is a damn fine chef, and (b) Maze Grill houses what it is believed to be the UK's first and only broiler. That, my friends, is why going to Maze Grill was such a big deal. As a fan of Anthony Bourdain's high-octane, ascerbic Kitchen Confidential, I have long since wondered what the big deal was with these broilers. Did they really make such a difference? Could you not achieve the same effect with a good old-fashioned British grill? Apparently not.

So when Atherton bought his broiler and made it the centrepiece, the entire raison d'etre, of his new restaurant, you might forgive me for wanting to hot-foot it along there quicker than you can say 'Creekstone prime USDA, corn fed'. (Obviously you can do quite a few things quicker than it takes to say that, but you get my point.)

The moment arrived. I'll let the photos do the talking. For the moment.

Maze Grill strip steak



Maze Grill fries



Maze Grill strip steak sliced

Look at it. Just look at it. And weep.


Maze Grill finished

I did my best.

I'm not sure what to say at this point. It was simply as good a steak as I have ever had. Tender, juicy, sumptuously meaty, melty. Just wonderful. Cooked to absolute stunning perfection. I wanted it to go on forever. Sadly, it didn't. Life can be very cruel.

A shout-out and very honourable mention should also go to its accompaniments. The fries were a real surprise and joy. Unlike so many fries, these actually had real bite, were fluffy inside, and tasted fantastically potatoey. The horseradish cream was light, just the right side of creamy, and with a hint of fire. The mayo was a rich, gloopy, eggy dream. The roasted garlic bulb was a great add-on, of which I ate every single nutty clove.

Together, the whole lot was every inch the meal we'd hoped for, and then some. Any cow should be proud to die for an ending like this, for it really is as good as it gets.

But, you know, there's more. Just when you think it can't get any better.

I mean, would you have resisted:

Selection of British cheeses £8.50
Sorbets and ice creams £5.00
Cider apple trifle with financiers, cider granité £7.00
Chocolate praline delice, peanut and olive oil ice cream £7.00
Yoghurt cheesecake, yoghurt sorbet, blueberry compote £7.00
Cinnamon doughnut, café coupe, hot chocolate £7.00
Red fruit Eton mess, mascarpone ice cream £7.00
Bitter chocolate brownie, bitter chocolate ice cream £7.00 ??

Well? Would you?

The problem was choosing. Regular readers will know I like to go for things with a difference and/or things I wouldn't make at home. So, although anything with the word 'chocolate' in it draws me in like a pig to truffles, on this occasion I held out. And plumped (being the appropriate word by this stage) for the cider apple trifle instead. And The Other Diner opted for the cinnamon doughnuts. Good choices, both.

I do occasionally make trifle and, as a kid, was fed buckets of the stuff every summer. But a cider apple trifle? Definitely a twist on the theme. I was suitably intrigued as to what it would be like.

Luckily, I didn't have long to wait.


Maze Grill apple cider trifle




Maze Grill apple cider trifle 2

A thing of real beauty.


Golly. What a sexy way to finish a meal. First, it looked good, you know? Gently luminous. Gently come hither...

The granita was, as you might expect, meltingly cooling and cidery. No childhood trifle was ever topped by anything so daring. Underneath, some unctuous cow-fresh cream, a layer of soft vanilla custard, and then a just-set, saliva-inducing fruity apple jelly. Like I say, sexy. Truly gorgeous.

On the other side of the table, meanwhile, The Other Diner was silent. But for the sound of contented munching.

Maze Grill doughnuts

The doughnuts were, I'm told, "Yummy. Really cinnamony. Soft and doughy on the inside in a very good way. With a lovely crispy shell. Perfect." So now you know. I understand the dunking components, the hot chocolate and cafe coupe, were equally as good.

But we weren't actually finished yet. Nope, we needed one of these each:

Maze Grill double espresso

... which we had to have in order to wash down a few of these...


Maze Grill biscuits

That's right. Some tantalisingly delicate pistachio and chocolate sable biscuits. Because, you know, we really hadn't had enough to eat by then.

And then, finally, we were through.

I mean, what else can I say? Go. Just go.

Maze Grill on Urbanspoon

53 comments:

Manggy said...

With an endorsement like that, how can I refuse?! I'll be expecting my tickets to Britain in the mail, heh heh :) That really looks like good, classic fare. I can't believe you began it with a lesson! That is too funny.

Both desserts look really enticing. I think I may want to replicate them (even though it'll be another lifetime before I can verify the taste, sigh...). I was wondering where the sponge for the trifle was, when I realized it was the financiers :)

Antonia said...

Wow - it all looks seriously good. The picture of the sliced steak really had me drooling. Time to start saving up, methinks.

Browners said...

Wow. That looks incredible. Looks like London now has a decent steakhouse after all.

Can't wait to find an excuse / save up...

Great pictures.

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

120 pounds for a steak?
i guess it wont be the first place i'll be visiting when i next get to the amazing city of yours

Lizzie said...

Lovely pictures, that steak had me dribbling. I've heard some mixed reviews about the place, but I loved Maze too.

ginger@dinnerdiary.org said...

It looks fabulous, it's been on my list for a while now.

You left a chip though and it looks like a good one too.

chefectomy said...

You had me at the steak, although I must say I could have been happy with the dessert and espresso. I miss London's dining scene, thanks for reminding my why this is such a cool city.

--Marc

Fiona Beckett said...

Hi Antonia - and everyone else who winced at the prices. They do a really good set lunch if you can ever get along there at lunchtime which includes steak bearnaise and chips. It was £11.95 (I think) just after it opened but is now about £15-16. Not at all bad value for this quality of food.

Only jarring note. When we arrived we were asked if we wanted a drink as our table wasn't quite ready. When we got to the restaurant it was half empty. Watch that.

Oh, and fantastic pix AFOS!

Dee said...

I do love my meat. And Wagyu... oh! My absolute favourite; who needs a retirement plan, anyway?

Helen said...

Oh I will go, don't you worry! Is it right that I am rather too pleased I got that restaurant right?! That sliced shot is too much.. I would have to go for the cheese at the end, being a cheese whore and all. There's always room for cheese...

Heather said...

Oh bloody hell. I'm not weeping, I'm panting.

(Yes, I changed my picture, but I'm still flipping you off.)

Cakelaw said...

Wow - where do you start with choices like this? Although I'm with you on the Wagyu - ouch!! Glad you had a fantastic dining experience there.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wow, that sounds like a fabulous meal! Beautiful setting, too. Thanks for sharing.

David Hall said...

You JAMMY git! That food looks amazing. I would love to go to Maze, the book is great.

Cheers
David

Simply...Gluten-free said...

Beautiful pix and what a cool looking place!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Wow! There must have been some great lighting in there cause these are terrific pics. I love the simple, modern look of the restaurant too. Thanks for sharing!

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Kate / Kajal said...

i wish i could go .... the palce and the food looks so stunning !

Cynthia said...

You know of the things I like about you, is that you know when to shut up :D (no offence intended) as you did in a part of this post and let the pictures just talk and boy did they talk, they seduced and enticed.

Pia K said...

Quite obviously I'm no fan of the meat part, but the rest looks amazing and the desserts... oh my oh sigh... Great pics, as usual!

Burak said...

Wow, I had heard good things about Maze but your review has absolutely convinced me. I'm making a reservation in the morning.

Loving Annie said...

oh good ! I've been wondering where to go for the best steak ! now I know - Yummmm in advance :)

Su-Lin said...

OK, you've convinced me that I need to go!

London Eater said...

Loooovely lookin' steak. It is the one and only in london , shipped over from the US of A and looks a cracking meal!

I didnt quite like Maze next door when I visited but the Grill looks alot better!

Great review + pictures will need to pay a visit soon.

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Spice Rack said...

Get that meat of the heat then give it to me... That looks so juicy. I really love grilled foods especially when it is marinated with herbs and spice from the spice rack.

The taste is very good.

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